Category Archives: 53. Chien – Development (Gradual Progress)

Chien – Development (Gradual Progress)


This hexagram is made up of Sun (wood, penetration) above, i.e., without, and Kên (mountain, stillness) below, i.e., within. A tree on a mountain develops slowly according to the law of its being and consequently stands firmly rooted. This gives the idea of a development that proceeds gradually, step by step. The attributes of the trigrams also point to this: within is tranquility, which guards against precipitate actions, and without is penetration, which makes development and progress possible.

[Time is running quickly for human beings, if we equate time with thoughts, it is never at ease. Our mind is changing much faster than the body. Human hair grows 1.25 cm per month, how many thoughts did you think today, even the silent ones? Trees think slowly, their pondering is deep. The forest is timeless by standards of a human being. Attempting to think like a tree our thoughts gain in profundity, in the oneiric slow motion dream. The roots are firm, our branches slowly in ascent; maybe leaves were akin to thoughts for a tree. The same moment of a flash, a break from deep meditation lasts two seasons for a tree that bears leaves. It takes some months for a tree to change its mind and gather new thoughts to ponder about — but it is always in concord, proportion and harmony with its nature, it is not stubborn, or determined, it is expressing its essence. Then in autumn it sheds its thoughts, it stills in recognition, as if in a positive deep void it retreats its thoughts deep within, but it gathers its force as if holding some inner truth that continuously leads to its renewal. Maybe that is why the Axis of the World Soul is compared to a tree, these are the deep thoughts that change according to sequence, repetitive laws. When we translate the language of the forest there is only wisdom, but it is silence that is not conveyable in human words. The Gods think like that, wordlessly, without a human voice or word, they are ideas that merge with the slow timeless subject of their doing, arising in great, wonderful things, according to beauty, proportion, truth. Slow decisions with penetrative insight that foresees are the greatest ones, spontaneous ones that are made quickly arise from the same source, as in a whirlwind that occurs in the ocean. Everything else seems like harshness or misjudgement, triviality and frivolity of little birds that too have their place in the world. The great Falcon hovers above, with great long thoughts it gathers the little birds and embraces them. The great pondering of all that is below.] – excerpt from the ‘Eternal Migrator Papers’


DEVELOPMENT. The maiden is given in marriage. Good fortune.Perseverance furthers.The development of events that leads to a girl’s following a man to his home proceeds slowly. The various formalities must be disposed of before the marriage takes place. This principle of gradual development can be applied to other situations as well; it is always applicable where it is a matter of correct relationships of co-operation, as for instance in the appointment of an official. The development must be allowed to take its proper course. Hasty action would not be wise. This is also true, finally, of any effort to exert influence on others, for here too the essential factor is a correct way of development through cultivation of one’s own personality [perseverant in mind – what a feature! perseverant in time – what greatness!]. No influence such as that exerted by agitators has a lasting effect.

Within the personality too, development must follow the same course if lasting results are to be achieved. Gentleness that is adaptable, but at the same time penetrating, is the outer form that should proceed from inner calm. The very gradualness of the development makes it necessary to have perseverance, for perseverance alone prevents slow progress from dwindling to nothing [it does not collapse due to lack of motivation and running towards new entertainments, projects, which collapse is similarly out of lack of perseverance and attention put to work].


On the mountain, a tree: The image of DEVELOPMENT. Thus the superior man abides in dignity and virtue, in order to improve the mores.The tree on the mountain is visible from afar, and its development influences the landscape of the entire region. It does not shoot up like a swamp plant; its growth proceeds gradually. Thus also the work of influencing people can be only gradual. No sudden influence or awakening is of lasting effect. Progress must be quite gradual, and in order to obtain such progress in public opinion and in the mores of the people, it is necessary for the personality to acquire influence and weight. This comes about through careful and constant work on one’s own moral development.


Six at the beginning means: The wild goose gradually draws near the shore. The young son is in danger. There is talk. No blame. All the individual lines in this hexagram symbolize the gradual flight of the wild goose. The wild goose is the symbol of conjugal fidelity, because it is believed that this bird never takes another mate after the death of the first.The initial line suggests the first resting place in the flight of water birds from the water to the heights. The shore is reached. The situation is that of a lonely young man who is just starting out to make his way in life. Since no one comes to help him, his first steps are slow and hesitant, and he is surrounded by danger [thus he must be pioneering to himself, if there is no one else to rely on, he is the sole cartographer of his steps – may he silently observe and learn]. Naturally he is subjected to much criticism. But these very difficulties keep him from being too hasty, and his progress is successful [in solitude one develops maturity faster, and by trial and error one learns from others and oneself the ways of life, it makes heavier and more profound steps with time, being more certain]

Six in the second place means: The wild goose gradually draws near the cliff.Eating and drinking in peace and concord. Good fortune.The cliff is a safe place on shore. The development has gone a step further. The initial insecurity has been overcome, and a safe position in life has been found, giving one enough to live on. This first success, opening up a path to activity, brings a certain joyousness of mood, and one goes to meet the future reassured.It is said of the wild goose that it calls to its comrades whenever it finds food; this is the symbol of peace and concord in good fortune. A man does not want to keep his good luck for himself only, but is ready to share it with others.

Nine in the third place means:The wild goose gradually draws near the plateau.The man goes forth and does not return.The woman carries a child but does not bring it forth. Misfortune.It furthers one to fight off robbers.The high plateau is dry and unsuitable for the wild goose. If it goes there, it has lost its way and gone too far. This is contrary to the law of development.It is the same in human life. If we do not let things develop quietly but plunge of our own choice too rashly into a struggle, misfortune results. A man jeopardizes his own life, and his family perishes thereby. However, this is not at all necessary; it is only the result of transgressing the law of natural development [tightening the strings and grip of causality by strong moves, instead of detaching, cutting through it, and observing]. If one does not willfully provoke a conflict, but confines himself to vigorously maintaining his own position and to warding off unjustified attacks, all goes well [defensive victory when on is in the right and follows the inner truth that is in tune with Heavens]

Six in the fourth place means:The wild goose gradually draws near the tree.Perhaps it will find a flat branch. No blame.

A tree is not a suitable place for a wild goose. But if it is clever, it will find a flat branch on which it can get a footing. A man’s life too, in the course of its development, often brings him into inappropriate situations, in which he finds it difficult to hold his own without danger. Then it is important to be sensible and yielding. This enables him to discover a safe place in which life can go on, although he may be surrounded by danger.

Nine in the fifth place means:The wild goose gradually draws near the summit.For three years the woman has no child.In the end nothing can hinder her.Good fortune.The summit is a high place. In a high position one easily becomes isolated. One is misjudged by the very person on whom one is dependent—the woman by her husband, the official by his superior. This is the work of deceitful persons who have wormed their way in. The result is that relationships remain sterile, and nothing is accomplished. But in the course of further development, such misunderstandings are cleared away, and reconciliation is achieved after all [without suspicion and accusations, one does with deceit away in his mind, if one is betrayed, one remains steadfast and is not troubled, but carries on]

Nine at the top means: The wild goose gradually draws near the cloud heights.Its feathers can be used for the sacred dance. Good fortune.Here life comes to its end. A man’s work stands completed. The path rises high toward heaven, like the flight of wild geese when they have left the earth far behind. There they fly, keeping to the order of their flight in strict formation. And if their feathers fall, they can serve as ornaments in the sacred dance pantomimes performed in the temples. Thus the life of a man who has perfected himself is a bright light for the people of the earth, who look up to him as an example.